The Poets and Poetry of Cecil County, Maryland

Part 7 out of 7

in the Eastern part of Maryland. Charles Vanderford, great grandfather
of the subject of this sketch, was a vestryman of St. Paul's Parish,
Centreville, Md., in 1719. Charles Wrench Vanderford was his
grandfather, and a member of the Old Maryland Line, in the Revolutionary
war. William Vanderford, his father, was a native of Queen Anne's
county, where the family held a grant of land of one thousand acres from
the crown, located between Wye Mills and Hall's Cross Roads, on which
the old mansion was built of brick imported from England.

Mr. Vanderford is now in retiracy, in the 76th year of his age, but
still active, and in the possession of good health and as genial and
cheerful as in the days of his prime.


Written after a visit to Rawley Springs, in the mountains of

On the mountains! Oh, how sweet!
The busy world beneath my feet!
Outspread before my raptur'd eyes
The wide unbounded prospect lies;
The panoramic vision glows
In beauty, grandeur and repose.
I gaze into the vaulted blue
And on the em'rald fields below;
The genial sunlight shimmers down
Upon the mountain's rugged crown,
The eye sweeps round the horizon
Until its utmost verge is won.
The hoary peaks, with forests crown'd,
Spread their vast solitudes around,
And intervening rocks and rills
The eye with very transport fills.
The bosom wells with joy serene
While viewing all the lovely scene,
The spirit soars on airy wings
Above all sublunary things.
I peer into the depths profound
Of the cerulean around,
And ether's far-off heights I scan,
As if, to feeble finite man,
The power of vision here were given
To view the battlements of heaven.
But, though I gaze and gaze intent,
Close scanning all the firmament,
No Mount of Vision unto me
Does this bold summit prove to be.
Though in elysian wrapt the while,
Where sublimated thoughts beguile,
Icarian pinions, all too frail,
Were sure my fancy's flight to fail.
Confined within this mortal clod,
Vain man would yet ascend to God,
Presumptuous, as of yore, to be
The heir of immortality.
But, from those fair, celestial heights
Of fervid fancy's loftiest flights,
My airy visions topple down
To where cool reason's realm is found,
And fancy folds her weary wings,
Content, the while, with earthly things.


"Man hath sought out many inventions."

The planets, forced by Nature's law,
Within their orbits ceaseless roll,
And man the lesson thence may draw--
By industry to reach his goal.

Hail! industry's all-conquering might!
Hail! engineering's giant skill!
That clambers up the mountain height,
And intervening valleys fill.

The enterprise of man shall know
No bounds upon this mundane sphere,
Whate'er his hands may find to do
He executes with skill and care.

His genius Nature's self subdues,
And all her powers subservient lie
At his command, and pleas'd he views
His great resources multiply.

He mines the earth and skims the air,
He plows the main, descends the deep,
And through its silent chambers there,
Electric forces flash and leap.

He flies, upon the wings of steam,
Mounts up with aerostatic pow'r,
He paints with every solar beam--
Unfolds new wonders ev'ry hour!

Not in material things alone
Does Progress mark its high career,
Fair science builds her regal throne,
And morals her triumphal car.

Man stands erect--his image fair
In God's own likeness first was cast,
His high prerogatives appear,
He seeks his destiny at last.

Upward and onward is his course,
In mental and in moral life,
With higher purpose, now, perforce,
With loftier aspirations rife.

In matters both of Church and State,
A high ambition spurs him on,
With buoyancy and hope elate,
He plies his task till it be done.


Written in the month of January, the ground covered with snow.

'Tis winter, drear winter, and cold the winds blow,
The ground is all cover'd with ice and with snow,
The trees are all gemm'd with a crystalline sheen,
No birdling or blossom are now to be seen.

The landscape is wearing a mantle of white,
Its verdure lies wither'd and hidden from sight,
Rude Borean blasts bleakly blow o'er the hills,
'Till the life-current, coursing, his icy-breath chills.

The rills in their ice-fetters firmly are bound
As the frost-spirit breathes o'er the face of the ground
The icicles pendant hang over the eaves,
And the wind whirls in eddies the rustling leaves.

It shrieks through the casement and in at the door--
All through the long night hear it fitfully roar,
The mitre ethereal silently flies
So keen and so cutting through storm-troubled skies.

The dark leaden clouds dim the light of the sun,
And the dull dreary hours drone slothfully on,
Euroclydon forges the cold biting sleet,
And the snow-drifts he piles at the traveler's feet.

The wealthy, at ease in their mansions so warm,
Heed not the rude blast of the pitiless storm--
The loud-roaring tempest, the elements din,
Serve only to heighten their comforts within.

The poor, in their hovels, feel keenly the blast,
And shudder and shake as the storm-sprite goes past;
Oh! pity the poor, in their lowly estate,
And turn them not empty away from your gate.



At an early hour of the Sabbath morn,
Beside the ancient, sacred pile, I stood
Of old St. Ann's. The ivy careless clamber'd
Along its moss-grown, antique walls;
The sun-light bathed in golden glory
The calm, sequester'd scene, and silence
Reigned through all the leafy grove,
Save where the warbling songster pour'd
His wood-notes wild, or where "the gray old trunks
That high in heaven mingled their mossy boughs,"
Murmur'd with sound of "the invisible breath
That played among their giant branches,"
And "bowed the wrapt spirit with the thought
Of boundless power and inaccessible majesty."
Within the lone church no loitering footfall
O'er threshold, aisle, or chancel echoed,
No sound intruded on the hush profound
Of that ancient temple. The pale sleepers
In the weird city of the dead lay mute,
Their mouldering ashes mingling with the dust,
While sculptured tablets with memorial brief,
Their memories from oblivion rescued.

As thus upon the scene around I gazed,
The fresh-turned earth upon a new-made grave,
Within its marble confines neat enclosed,
My vision steadfast fixed, and I beheld
Three maidens, bearing each a rich bouquet,
Approach the tomb, and softly by its side
Stoop down and place thereon their floral gems
In token of the love they bore the friend
So late inurned, whom yet they fondly cherish'd.
Full preparation one had duly made
To stand beside her at the bridal altar;
But now, beside her early grave she stood,
With floral tokens of unfailing love
For the fair young wither'd flower beneath.
Touching and beautiful the lovely sight
Of such devotion deep at friendship's shrine.
My sterner heart, in welling sympathy,
Throbb'd its response to this ennobling act
Of these fair sisters, and did them homage
Deep down within its silent recesses.
Oh, when with them life's fitful fever ends
May ne'er be wanted hand of sympathy
To strew affection's token o'er their graves.


Ethereal mildness, gentle showers.
Springing verdure, opening flowers,
Apple blossoms, bobolinks,
Budding roses, blushing pinks,
Cherries snowy, peach buds sleek,
Rivaling a maiden's cheek,
Balmy zephyrs, halcyon hours,
Song of birds and scent of flowers,
Vernal season, swelling spray,
All belong to Merry May.


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